Packing Tips from Ex-Officio and Deneki

How to keep your bag from becoming a bottomless, messy pit.

What I wouldn’t give to be hauling a couple rollers out to the rig right now, setting off for somewhere like the Bahamas or Baja. Instead, I’m just watching the snow fall and the puddles ice over. But it won’t be long, damn it, and I’ll be headed somewhere. And like all the other times I’ve travelled, all my gear will jostel around until it’s all confused and disorganized at the bottom of my bag. I’ve spent a good hour at times looking for a piece of equipment that I knew I packed with and then couldn’t find until the last day of my expedition. And nobody enjoys that. So, I thought it might be good for all of us to post a couple thoughts on packing for fly fishing travel, one from Andrew Bennett, who runs four lodges sprinkled around the globe, and the other from the serious travel experts at Seattle-based Ex Officio. So, with permission from Bennett at Deneki and from Midcurrent, which hired Bennett to write the piece, here are a few ways to save your sanity when traveling to remote fishing locals. —gt

GREAT, YOU’VE BLOCKED off the time, rounded up your friends and spent some money on a fishing trip. When it’s time to get packed, just a little extra effort will make your life a whole lot easier before and during the trip. Give these ideas a try the next time around.

1. Ditch your rod tubes.  Yes, those aluminum rods tubes that came with your rods are pretty much bomb-proof. You could throw them in your suitcase and you wouldn’t have to worry at all about damage to your rods. The problem?  They’re also heavy, unwieldy and often totally unnecessary.  Lots of modern angling luggage provides a very safe place for rods just folded up in their “socks.”  Bags like the Sage DXL Rolling Duffel have a stiff bottom compartment that’s perfect for “loose” 4-piece rods and still have plenty of room for fleece, waders, shirts… pretty much anything else that’s soft and bulky.  As a bonus, that bulky stuff helps to pad your rods inside the big bag.

2. Use packing organizers.  Most fishing trips involve multiple stops.  You might hit three motels in Montana in a week.  You might overnight in Anchorage on the way to the lodge.  Any time you’re going to be in and out of your luggage, packing organizers like the Eagle Creek Pack-It system keep you well- organized and help you avoid the “sea of gear in a giant bag” syndrome.  They weigh almost nothing, and you’ll be amazed at how much more space you have in your bag by keeping things folded and packed in a little more orderly fashion.  No more digging through your bottomless duffel in the morning — just unzip the “clean boxers” pouch and you’re off.

3. Pre-pack your boat bag.  Prior to your trip, think hard about what you’re going to need when you’re out on the water.  Pack your boat bag accordingly, at home, before you leave.  Organizing your boat bag on the first night of your trip is a pretty bad idea.  Loading your boat bag at home makes it a lot more likely that you remember every last little gadget, and besides, you don’t really want to spend the first night of the trip alone in your room organizing fly boxes, do you?

4. Know what they’ve got where you’re going.  Can you do laundry at the lodge?  Do they have loaner waders?   Is your fly shop host bringing extra rods in case you break one?  Is your buddy bringing the cooler?  Do they have your favorite scotch behind the bar?  Getting these kinds of questions answered will keep you from over-packing.  Really, you and your five buddies don’t all need to bring a spare 8-weight.

5. Go for wheels or backpacks.  It might not be that far from your car to the check-in counter, and the rolling duffel bag may cost a little more, but we angler types are expert at packing 50-pound bags.  50-pound bags slung over one shoulder are very bad for your back.  Make it just a little easier on yourself — go for the rolling bag, or at the very least go for the backpack and use both straps.

Andrew Bennett is the President of Deneki Outdoors, a company that owns and operates fly fishing lodges in Alaska, British Columbia, the Bahamas and Chile.  He travels to fish, a lot. Copyright © 2011 Deneki Outdoors and MidCurrent LLC.



Five Packing Tips for Every Trip

1. To save space, roll your clothing up or use packing cubes.

2. Pack your bag. Unpack it. Remove 25% of it as you won’t need it.

3. Leave your jeans at home. They’re heavy and take a long time to dry.

4. Pack a sarong. You can cover up with it; tie it as a bag; use it as a sheet; or create a makeshift tent to hide from the sun.

5. Bring something you love, even if it serves no purpose besides reminding you of home.

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